A paw that’s laid upon my knee,
And questing eyes that gaze at me,
And furrowed, slightly worried brow
Twixt turn’d out ears; all ask - ‘What now?’
My hand goes out to smooth the coat
It sears my loving heart to note
The clear brown eye now dimming blue,
And muzzle turned all gray in hue.
Full fourteen years, in canine age,
Will spell the turning of a page
Ere many moons shall pass. I know.
It is inevitably so.
Yet still her coat has shine and sheen,
And still her appetite is keen.
With greedy love, and hope, I pray,
That God may yet defer the day,
When shadow at my feet will be
Only the ghost that I shall see,
Soothing my mind with memory,
Of field and marsh and forest tree,
Where two hearts beat and were but one
In seeking what befell the gun.
My fingers fondle under ears,
I fight with sentimental fears.
I’m deeply troubled in my mind,
What best to do? . . . To leave behind
Will cause her misery and pain,
And if she come, there’s risk again.
The slope is steep on Forest Hill,
Even the very cleanest kill
May fall two hundred feet below,
To bramble, blanketed in snow
My own short breath and rheumy back
Confine me to the level track.
Although we brought home only two,
It did not seem, to us, too few.
We’d stolen yet another day
That no-one now could take away.
Contented, by the warm fireside,
Our love was not unmix’d with pride.